New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie and freelance writer John Ganz delve into the world of 90s post-Cold War thrillers with Unclear and Present Danger, a podcast that explores America in an age of transition to lone superpower, at once triumphant and unsure of its role in the world.
Clear and Present Danger
In this week’s episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John discuss the show’s namesake, “Clear and Present Danger,” the third and final “Jack Ryan” movie of the 1990s, whose politics are one part arch-cynicism about American foreign policy and one part naive liberal optimism about the integrity of the national security bureaucracy. Other topics include the film’s connection to the Iran-Contra scandal, the way that it touches on American memory of the Vietnam War, the fantasy of unlimited American power that animates this and other movies in the Tom Clancy oeuvre and, of course, Harrison Ford.
Patriot Games (feat. Will Rahn)
In this week’s episode of Unclear and Present Danger, Jamelle and John are joined by Will Rahn of Yahoo News to talk “Patriot Games,” the second Jack Ryan movie of the 1990s and the first to star Harrison Ford. They discuss Ross Perot and the 1992 presidential election, Irish nationalism (and Irish bars), the film’s unambiguously pro-C.I.A politics, WASP triumphalism and the politics of George H.W. Bush.
The Hunt for Red October
This is the first episode of Unclear and Present Danger, a new podcast by Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times and John Ganz, a freelance journalist writing a book on American politics in the 1990s. It is a podcast about the political thrillers of that decade, and what they said — or did not say — about the United States in the last years and immediate aftermath of the Cold War. We’re going to cover a wide range of movies, but we thought we would begin with a paradigmatic example of the genre, John McTiernan’s The Hunt for Red October, based on the best-selling Tom Clancy novel.
A quick correction: In the episode, Jamelle said that McTiernan went to jail for tax evasion. This was incorrect. He actually went to prison for lying to the FBI.
Timely and fun review of 90s movies
Great analysis of the post-Cold War era of US action films! Very entertaining and insightful.
First Two Episodes are GREAT. The Third not so much
The Third Episode completely undersells how much of a reactionary Clancy was. The movie isn’t “inspired” by Iran-Contra; it IS Iran-Contra as told to Clancy by his hero, Ollie North. Greer isn’t Colin Powell; he’s Bill Casey, all the way down to the terminal illness which precluded from taking the blame for his protege (because Casey totally would have, according to the delusions of Clancy and North).
Now, I get it. I’m a Gen Xer who lived through this, but one of things I hated about the book and the movie is how Clancy get away with portraying North, a felon, con man, thief, and war criminal as a hero. And, I hate that our two millennials completely missed that part
Right up my alley
If you are interested in politics and enjoy watching dad thrillers from the 90s then you are in for a real treat.